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The “Big Companies have Big Pockets” Conundrum

Guha Bharadwaj

Cloud, IT and Three Big Challenges for Big Companies

I was playing tennis the other day with a friend who is an IT executive with one of the larger companies in the area.

He explained some of his pleasure in working with a volunteer group.  He helped them choose and implement a cloud based system that streamlined some of their operations.

It was inexpensive and easy, he said.  Implementation was easy, as the staff was excited to adapt to a new level of automation.  Security needs were met with a common sense review.  Existing cloud services were used without customization.

“The problem is,” he commented, “When I go back to my real job, it would cost 10 times as much and take 15 times as long to do the same thing.”

Large companies often get muscle bound, looking for the ‘best,’ exhaustive solution that is more focused on meeting the immediate and long term biases of multiple stakeholders, rather than focusing one the most efficient and effective way to obtain substantial improvements.

The reasoning, at least on the surface, makes sense:

  1. Large companies tend to be very compartmentalized. In an attempt to engage the stakeholders, many personal biases, opinions and department needs (as opposed to enterprise need) focus tends to dramatically increase the complexity of the project.
  2. Large companies tend to have shelf-ware or extensions of their large business applications that can, in theory, solve a multitude of problems. There is usually significant political push to use where the investment had previously been made, rather than concentrate on the best investment now.
  3. Related to the above, large companies have an architectural function that tries to push for coordination and preparation for a future. This works well in some cases; in others, it substantially delays important projects and leads to an increase in the independent actions of business units that is often called ‘Shadow IT’.

Modern cloud solutions give companies a chance for targeted, precise solutions that produce benefits.  The flexibility of small companies often allows them to achieve benefits that the large companies bypass, to their detriment.

Large companies will benefit if they are more proactive in participating bringing in ‘point’ solutions that offer a beneficial mix of getting immediate benefit while being reasonably consistent with long term architecture.

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